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Doctor insights on: Blood Test Shows Falsely Elevated Potassium Levels

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Dr. Ihab Ibrahim
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Hyperkalemia (Definition)

Hyperkalemia in an elevated potassium level in the blood. It can be mild to severe. The most common causes are kidney disease, Addison's disease, dehydration, and multiple drug therapies. It can occur in crush injuries and rhabdomyolysis (rapid breakdown of muscle) or hemolysis (breakdown of blood cells). Severe hyperkalemia can be fatal and cause the heart to stop beating or become very slow. It is usually treated by resin exchange agents (Kayexalate or others) or dialysis and fluids. Sometimes glucose, Insulin and sodium bicarbonate can be utilized as ...Read more


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Would eating before a blood test cause a slightly higher potassium level?

Would eating before a blood test cause a slightly higher potassium level?

Meals and potassium: Your potassium (k) level is dependent on various factors. Some are, any presence of chronic kidney disease (ckd), if the rbc's in the blood were broken going into the test tube, how long the blood was in the tube before the k level was done and how long before the test you ingested and the and the amount of k you ate. Speak to the doctor (d) who ordered the test and ask the d if you have any ckd. ...Read more

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My potassium level was 3.2 on my blood test yesterday. How should I treat this and is there a danger?

My potassium level was 3.2 on my blood test yesterday. How should I treat this and is there a danger?

There can be: Some danger as well as some physical conditions that are worsened by a low potassium. There are also endocrine abnormalities that can produce low potassium and should be treated. You would have to drink a lot of orange juice and eat a lot of bananas to replace your potassium. It will be easier to take a supplement but best to discuss with your health care provider first. ...Read more

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What could cause my potassium in my blood test to be a level 8?

What could cause my potassium in my blood test to be a level 8?

Potassium of 8: Unless you are a dialysis patient, a potassium (k) of 8 would kill you by stopping your heart from pumping. Most likely, you had a elevated k due to some leaking of k from the intracellular space during the drawing of blood from your vein. This is called "factitious hyperkalemia". Elevated k levels are also seen with increased platelets in your blood or some destruction of rbc's in the test tube. ...Read more

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What to do if I have had blood test done for a physical, and my potassium levels are very high. Any help?

Get it rechecked: It is probably a lab error. It is not uncommon to have this false alarm because potassium level does not go up if you are well. It usually goes up if your kidney is not functioning. Most of the false alarms are caused by a difficult blood draw which can dmage the red cells which relase potassium into the blood. But it is nothing to worry about. You just need to confirm it. ...Read more

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What is the problem with having high potassium level in blood test report?

What is the problem with having high potassium level in blood test report?

Heart arrhythmias: The most concerning side effect of having too high potassium in your blood is the possibility of developing heart rhythm disturbances, some of which can be life-threatening. A slightly elevated potassium level will not cause this, but you want to make sure that it is not trending upward into a dangerous zone. ...Read more

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5.4 Potassium level I had blood test for surgery and all were normal range except K how can I lower my Potassium?

5.4 Potassium level I had blood test for surgery and all were normal range except K how can I lower my Potassium?

It depends: On whether the high potassium level is because of kidney disease, medications (like lisinopril and losartan for BP or potassium supplements), endocrine disease (like hypoaldosteronism) or obstruction. There are medications to lower potassium but they are typically used in the hospital setting only, not for home. If you are eating high potassium foods, you should stop. Diuretics also help lower ...Read more

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I recently had a physical and my WBC were low 2.98 and potassium level was high. I was told to get another blood test. Should I be concerned? Thanks

I recently had a physical and my WBC were low 2.98 and potassium level was high. I was told to get another blood test. Should I be concerned? Thanks

Sure...: ...at least to follow your doctor's advice and get the recommended next blood test. Then, let's see what's found before you worry prematurely. ...Read more

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During a recent blood test my potassium level was 3.3. My doctor did not mention it and said my blood work was normal. Should I be concerned?

Not necessarily. ..: Unless you have symptoms like cramps or weakness. You can replace it by natural sources such as bananas, oranges, tomatoes, etc. Also if you have water pill intake, your doctor may need to put you in a daily potassium replacement. ...Read more

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I am worried about my blood test result. Potassium level 5.9 mmol/l (two weeks later 5.8 mmol/l.How to reduce serum potassium level in blood? Tanks!

May be due to meds: You need to review your medication. Some medications such as ace inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure can cause high potassium. Eat less fruits and vegetables. See your doctor. ...Read more

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I'm on Benicar (olmesartan) 20 mg for hbp. My last blood test for potassium. It was 4.6. What are the chances the Benicar (olmesartan) increases it to dangerous levels?

I'm on Benicar (olmesartan) 20 mg for hbp. My last blood test for potassium. It was 4.6. What are the chances the Benicar (olmesartan) increases it to dangerous levels?

Benicar (olmesartan) and K: First of all, if you are 18 years old on BP medication, there may be else going on. You are too young for essential hypertension and need to be referred to a nephrologist to see if you have secondary hypertension. You need to be evaluated for a coarctation of the aorta, conn's syndrome, renal artery stenosis and a pheochromocytoma. You potassium of 4.6 is not a problem, your hypertension at 18 is. ...Read more

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Potassium level is high from blood test for my 80year father who has parkinson, what can we do to lower potassium?

HIgh potassium level: You need to have your father's kidney function evaluated by having a 24 hour urine for creatinine clearance and protein done as well as having a renal ultrasound done to see the size and morphology of his kidneys. At 80 years, his renal function would not be normal. It could be worse if had diabetes and hypertension. His high potassium level could be a sign of renal disease. Go to a nephrologist. ...Read more

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Blood test shows sodium 139, potassium 3.3 L, and chloride 109 H. What does this mean and should I be concerned? WBC/RBC is normal. Anion gap 5.0

Electrolytes: Your electrolyte balance is not perfectly normal. The chloride is high, as you note, and the anion gap is low. Bicarbonate (sodium bicarbonate) level is the other component of the anion gap - what is that value. Your potassium is low. Is this spontaneous or is it related to diet, diarrhea, vomiting, or a medication you did not report? Normal WBC and RBC is reassuring. ...Read more

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88 y/o dad w/heart dis, diabetes, on many meds, has swollen lwr legs & feet, 6.6 potassium level in blood test, will furosemide work, how long for result?

88 y/o dad w/heart dis, diabetes, on many meds, has swollen lwr legs & feet, 6.6 potassium level in blood test, will furosemide work, how long for result?

ER visit: 88 year old gentleman with multiple medical problems.
Call 911 have your father visit the ER because elevated potassium levels can affect his heart. The blood test may be hemolyzed (falsely elevated) but better safe than sorry with your father- get him evaluated immediately. Good luck. ...Read more

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Three cups of black coffee before my fasting blood test. Potassium came in at 5.7. Could this be the cause. I'm healthy otherwise.

No.: Have the test repeated. Blood cells can break down and release potassium. If the specimen was drawn in a way that traumatized the red blood cells, or if it sat around a long time before being tested, it will have an artificially high potassium. ...Read more

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What foods are low in potasium? My last blood test last friday, my potassium was really high.

HIgh potassium level: Did a doctor order your blood test? Did you speak to him? Perhaps you need to see a neprhologist to see what is causing your high potassiumn (k) level in your blood. If you have normal kidney function, your k would not be elevated. Please see a nephrologist to have an examination and take some blood work. Eating a diet low in k probably is not the answer to your high k level in your blood. ...Read more

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Can fasting for a blood test cause low potassium?

No: Potassium levels are tightly regulated in the body. Fasting should not cause significant change in levels. ...Read more

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I got high potassium in my blood test. How can I control potassium and can I eat meat?

I got high potassium in my blood test. How can I control potassium and can I eat meat?

Nephrologist: Potassium balance is tightly regulated by the kidneys, so any potassium disorder implies some derangement in potassium handling. If you have high potassium problems, you must consult nephrologist.
Pork has the highest amount of potassium followed by beef and chicken. If you have high potassium level, you have to limit meat intake. ...Read more

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My wife had a second blood test and results as follows. Creatinine 36.0 umol/L. Sodium 1.38 umol/L and potassium 4.4 umol/L what does this mean?

Hard to interpret: Blood tests can't be taken out of context. They are only a part of any physician's evaluation and must be interpreted along with the history and physical exam. Also need to know the normal ranges for the particular laboratory. I suspect the sodium is 138, not 1.38, and that is usually within the normal range. So is potassium. Creatinine = 36/88.4=0.41mg/dl seems low. High creatinine is worrisome. ...Read more

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21, female. Taking 50mg Metoprolol. How much potassium can I safely ingest? Really scared of potassium but recent blood test it was normal.

If your renal: Function is normal you are unlikely to have a problem regulating your potassium. The metoprolol will not affect this. Supplemental potassium is rarely necessary unless you have certain endocrine disorders or are taking certain medications that cause you to lose potassium. You had better discuss your concerns with your health care provider who has all of your health information and lab work. ...Read more

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Healthy young male, 23 y/o born with one kidney on his last blood test had potassium lvl 5.12 (upper limit 5.1). What can he do to lower it by himself?

Healthy young male, 23 y/o born with one kidney on his last blood test had potassium lvl 5.12 (upper limit 5.1). What can he do to lower it by himself?

Stop worrying: Lab reference ranges are set so that a few percent of healthy folks fall outside on either side. At age 23, you need to be concerned with getting your career underway, forming relationships, perhaps finding somebody special. The last thing you need to be doing is obsessing about your labs. Be thankful for good health. Stay fit and enjoy being young. ...Read more

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What would cause potassium, AST & ALT to be below the normal range on a blood test?

Low Potassium: Low potassium most often is due to diuretics but in a number of people might be due to a aldostrone imbalance.
Low alt, ast are not associated with any disease as I did some reasearch. ...Read more

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Blood test: estimated creatinine clearance test (low), what could it indicate? EGFR & creatinine normal. Potassium & sodium low. 28yr/f

Blood test: estimated creatinine clearance test (low), what could it indicate? EGFR & creatinine normal. Potassium & sodium low. 28yr/f

How do you FEEL?: Many (maybe most) pathologists and nephrologists aren't impressed with the current practice of labs estimate GFR, creatinine clearance and so forth from a spot creatinine. Some formulas include race "because black people are more muscular than white people" -- these were never intended to be applied to individuals. Frankly, if your others labs are healthy, I'd ignore it. ...Read more

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I have low potassium and take supplements for it, but should I still get a blood test done? And would I have to stop taking them if I did?

I have low potassium and take supplements for it, but should I still get a blood test done? And would I have to stop taking them if I did?

Low potassium: You low potassium (k) is a problem. You're vomiting, that will cause a low k. You do not list that you are taking any diuretics that would lose both k and magnesium (m). Patients with m deficits have low k levels that cannot be corrected until their m is normal. There are renal losses of k that could give you a low k blood level. See you physician and find out why you are vomiting ; check k and m. ...Read more

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Can using albuterol cause a low potassium on your blood test?

Can using albuterol cause a low potassium on your blood test?

Useful in a pinch: Respectfully, for the reasons detailed by dr. Rubin, nebulized albuterol can be effective within 30 minutes to lower potassium by about 0.5 mmol/l. The effect lasts about 2 hours. Long enough for bicarbonate (sodium bicarbonate) and Insulin therapies to start working. ...Read more

Dr. Madhu Kandarpa
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